Reducing biases in the representation of clouds and aerosols in the New Zealand Earth System Model (NZESM)

  • Project duration: 2015-2019
  • Project funding: $1.8m 

Cloud-related feedbacks are difficult to represent in climate models due to the complexity of cloud physics, the interactions and effect of aerosols, the importance of processes occurring at small scales, and the often large impact on radiation.

The prevalence of clouds in the Southern Ocean region is often underestimated in climate models compared with satellite observations. This causes the model to predict warmer than observed sea-surface temperatures and corresponding shifts in the storm tracks. These biases may also affect the sensitivity of the model to man-made climate drivers, such as increasing greenhouse gases. Improving our understanding of clouds and incorporating this understanding into Earth System Models is critical, as these biases in the Southern Ocean have been shown to have influences as far away as the tropics.

This project will improve our understanding of the chemistry and physics of clouds and aerosols in this region by combining detailed measurements made during cruises in the Southern Ocean with satellite observations. This improved understanding and quantification of cloud and aerosol processes will allow us to improve the representation of clouds and aerosols in the NZESM.

Primary Contact and Principle Investigator:

  • Associate Professor Adrian McDonald, University of Canterbury,

Adrian’s main research interests are associated with understanding the coupling between different regions of the atmosphere. His work involves the use of a range of remotely sensed observations from radar and satellite instruments and data from reanalyses and other models. More information on Adrian’s work can be found here.

Project partners:

  • University of Canterbury
  • NIWA
  • University of Auckland
  • UK Met Office

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